1st - 13th May 2016
Far at the southern tip of Africa lies a fascinating, beautiful and truly bizarre place. The jewel of the south, the magical Namibia.
Namibia is a huge country with an equally monstrous variety of photographic potential. Join professional landscape photographers Erez Marom and Hougaard Malan as they guide you on this comprehensive 13-day workshop, where you will experience first hand its mind-boggling beauty, and be taken to the very best spots in this mesmerising, often perplexing land.
Immense red dunes rising over 300 meters above the earth in the world's oldest desert, sweeping thunderstorms, petrified trees left from another era centuries ago, a ghost town built, populated and then suddenly abandoned, you will see and shoot all off these and more, from the ground and from the air, under top professional assistance and dedicated guidance. Locations and phenomena that will make you doubt the world you know and simply watch in awe, as landscapes you never imagined unveil in front of your eyes.
The guesthouse shuttle will collect all arriving guests from the Windhoek International Airport during the day. At 18:00 we will head to the famous Joe’s Beer House for dinner where everyone is introduced and the guides will get you excited about the photo opportunities that lie ahead.
After Breakfast at the hotel, we'll board our spacious bus and journey 500km south to Quiver Tree Forest. Found in only in South-Western Africa, quiver “trees” are actually very large succulent plants. With their cracking golden-white bark and remarkable shape, they make great photographic subjects. We’ll arrive at our destination early afternoon, leaving plenty of time for everyone to familiarize themselves with the amazing trees. The group will be split in two and the other half will shoot sunset at Giant’s Playground, which is just around the corner and offers identical photo opportunities. After sunset we’ll have dinner at the lodge and get to bed early.
The moon will rise at 4:30am this morning, so we’ll get up at around 3:30am to capture the rising of a near full moon amongst the Quiver Trees. Twilight will start at about 5:30, giving us 3 hours of shooting in a great variety of lighting conditions. After breakfast we make the 3-hour drive Southwest to Fish River Lodge, which is perched on a cliff edge overlooking the world’s 2nd largest canyon. This hotel is constantly rated as one of the most breathtaking in Namibia and it offers amazing photographic opportunities. We’ll spend the afternoon exploring the cliff edges for foregrounds that complement the endless expanse of the canyon. This location also offers great opportunities to photograph quiver trees in case you feel you didn't get enough at the forest.
This morning will be the highlight of convenience on the workshop as we photograph a quiver tree on the cliff edge from the lodge’s pool deck. After breakfast we'll get back in our bus and make a 3-hour drive to the Coastal town of Luderitz. We’ll spend a long afternoon familiarizing ourselves with the many colorful, sand filled rooms of Kolmanskop. Situated just 5 minutes inland from Luderitz, it is the long forgotten site of one of the greatest diamond rushes in history. Just after the turn of the 19th century, German mining companies invested a fortune to build an entire town in the middle of nowhere. Everything from the door frames to the paint was imported from Germany and today the desert is reclaiming this once-glorious town. Despite being flooded with sand, the dry climate has done an amazing job of preserving the colorful rooms. There are well over 25 rooms worth photographing, so everyone can do their own thing. The guides will assist everyone to identify a room with an east-facing window for the next morning. After sunset we’ll have dinner at the Hotel.
We’ll get up for an early coffee and depart for the Ghost town in darkness. The guides will make sure that everyone is in place for a beam of orange light in the buildings as the sun crests the horizon in the East. After a quick morning shoot we'll head back to the hotel for breakfast. We'll return to Kolmanskop just before noon to make sure we capture the shadows of open roof slats under a 1 o'clock sun, and then have another relaxed afternoon exploring the Ghost town.
After a final morning in the abandoned diamond town, we'll depart for what is considered the best lodge in Namibia – Wolwedans. It is nestled in the heart of the Namib Rand and has the highest density of Fairy Circles found anywhere in the world. Fairy Circles are to this day still a phenomenon we don’t fully understand. They are circular patches of land where nothing grows, typically found mostly in the grass fields of Namibia. What causes fairy circles isn't that important to us, all we know is that they make intriguing landscape photos. We'll have 3 sunrises and 3 sunsets in this amazing location to capture the unique combination of grass, dunes, trees and mountains.
The Namib Rand is the ultimate location to shoot the typical Namib landscape - red dunes, green grass, storm clouds, all in one beautiful package.
Our final destination is Sossusvlei; a one of a kind landscape created by an ancient river flowing into the desert. Like several other rivers in Namibia, the Tsauchab River used to flow from the mountains, through the desert, all the way to the coast. Thousands of years ago it was cut off from the ocean by the expanding desert and this created a seasonal wetland amongst the dunes. Over the millennia, this wetland has retreated inland as the Namib Desert slowly reclaims the valley that the river cuts through the dunes. As it stands today, Sossusvlei is about 60 kilometers from the coast, but still 40 kilometers into the towering red dunes of the Namib Desert. Although the river only flows all the way to Sossus a few times every decade, the valley still sustains a large population of wildlife amongst the dunes. There is always the chance that we may witness the river in flood and since it hasn’t flooded since 2012, the statistics are in our favor.
The amazing photos of snaking dune spines are all captured along the 40km drive into the Tsauchab Dune Valley. Thanks to this valley’s East-West orientation, the afternoon sun creates deep black shadows on the Eastern side and bright red colors on the Western side of the dunes. This offers great opportunities for telephoto shots of snaking dune spines. The afternoons can often go up to 45 degrees Celsius, in which case we’ll opt for this more convenient sunset shoot.
At the end of the Tsauchab Dune Valley is the famous Deadvlei, which was cut off from Sossusvlei by a low dune an estimated 700-800 years ago. The lack of water, arid climate and hard wood of the Namibian Camel Thorn tree has kept the trees of Deadvlei from decomposing. The result is a collection ghostly trees rising from a cracked white clay surface. The pan is deceptively large and offers about 50 of the oddly shaped trees to photograph. The location can be overwhelming at first, but the guides know the location well and will assist everyone to find the best trees and photograph them adequately.
Please note: Reaching Deadvlei requires walking 1.1km on soft sand and over a dune that is about 50 meters high. The climb is very gradual and we'll tentatively only do it in the mornings when it is still cool. For a person in reasonable shape it won't be a problem. The guides will always be available to help carry heavy camera when the going gets tough.
There are many great lodges at Sossusvlei, but only one of them allows you to shoot in the ideal hours and thus it’s not always easy to get a booking there. We’ve been able to book out half of the lodge, which makes it unlikely that we’ll be sharing sunrises in Deadvlei with other photographic groups. Moreover, we might have the truly unique experience of shooting Deadvlei by night (not yet guaranteed but in the works).
Aerial photography: The workshop includes a one-hour helicopter flight for aerial photography. Flying over this landscape and capturing it from above is a once in a lifetime experience. The operator has two Robinson Raven II R44’s, which can take 3 passengers at a time. Upon arrival at Sossusvlei we will draw up a roster to figure out who will go for aerials on which mornings/afternoon. The rest of the group will still go about the morning and afternoon shoots as usual, while the respective people take their turn to go for aerial photography.
Aerial photography is a truly fantastic experience, and when combined with some of the most impressive desert landscapes on earth, it's simply delightful!
After a last sunrise at Sossusvlei, we’ll say goodbye to the sands of the Namib and board our bus one last time. We’ll take a scenic drive back North, stopping at the famous solitaire restaurant for lunch and crossing over the scenic Spreetshoogte pass. After checking into the guesthouse in Windhoek we’ll go for a final dinner at Joe’s Beer House. The guesthouse will arrange all shuttles to the airport the next day.
After breakfast at the hotel, the shuttle will take you to Hosea Kutako International Airport for your flight home.
Total Price: US$6990 per person in double room for participants registering by December 31st, 2015. $7190 for participants registering afterwards.
Single room supplement: $990
Maximum Number of Participants: 13
Spaces Available: 12
Physical Difficulty: Intermediate. There will be some dune climbing, and the high temperatures and harsh sunlight can prove exhausting. There will be short hikes of up to 30 minutes, some on sand, to get to specific locations. To make things easier, you may choose to rest on occasion, and skip a shoot here or there. We have enough time in each location to make sure you make the most of it, even if you don't make it to all the shoots. The guides are always available to help with carrying the equipment and make your stay easier.
Born in 1980, Erez Marom is a full-time nature photographer, photography guide, writer and traveler-adventurer based in Israel. Specializing in wildlife and landscape photography, Erez spends much of his time in the field shooting the wildlife and scenery of his favorite locations in Israel and overseas.
In addition, Erez publishes articles and instructional texts in leading magazines and websites, and dedicates a considerable amount of his time to sharing his experience and knowledge by lecturing worldwide and traveling several times a year to guide his unique photography workshops.
After finishing school and naively thinking engineering or architecture are good directions to go in, Hougaard learnt his calling when he picked up a DSLR camera. Seven years on it is his profession and passion and his name is synonymous with landscape photography in Southern Africa. His work has been published in every imaginable form of media, both locally and internationally.
Hougaard has spent almost 150 days capturing Namibia's photographic hotspots and knows the locations like his backyard. He speaks Afrikaans, which is the predominant language in the South of Namibia. Over the years he has learnt exactly which lodges have the best access to the locations, when is the best time to shoot each place and what permits are required. All these factors make him the ideal local guide for a photographic tour in Namibia.
In order to secure your spot, you are required to transfer a deposit of $1990. This deposit will be refunded only in case the workshop gets cancelled for some reason. For your comfort, the deposit can be payed either through PayPal or via bank transfer (contact me for details).
The full amount (after discounts if applicable) must be payed via wire transfer 75 days prior to the workshop starting date.
In the case you need to cancel your participation, a 67% refund (excluding deposit) will be given up to 60 days prior to the workshop starting date and a 33% refund up to 45 days prior to the workshop starting date.
I reserve the right to increase the price of the workshop if costs rise due to unexpected changes in fees, taxes or exchange rates.
The tour plan above is subject to change in extreme cases.
Important: In order to join the workshop, you will be required to sign a contract that establishes that the tour leaders are not responsible to physical or proprietary damages, and that you understand and accept several behavioral standards (including not taking excessive risk), necessary to ensure the workshop's success and your safe return.
Thunderstorms can't be guaranteed, of course, but in the Namibian summer they are quite common, and there's a good chance of shooting them.
1st - 13th May 2016